Kerala, one of the worst-hit states by the COVID-19 pandemic, recorded 292 fresh cases and three deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the state health department. The total number of active cases in the state now stands at 1,749, while the death toll has reached 13,900.
Test positivity rate drops to 0.5%
The test positivity rate (TPR), which indicates the percentage of people who test positive for the virus out of those who have been tested, dropped to 0.5% on Wednesday, the lowest in the last six months. The state had tested 58,057 samples in the last 24 hours, out of which 292 were found positive.
The TPR had peaked at 32.8% in May, when the state was witnessing a devastating second wave of the pandemic. Since then, the state has been able to bring down the TPR gradually through strict lockdown measures, ramping up testing and vaccination, and enforcing COVID-19 protocols.
Three districts report zero cases
Among the 14 districts of the state, three districts – Kasaragod, Wayanad and Idukki – reported zero new cases on Wednesday, while Thiruvananthapuram reported the highest number of cases with 57, followed by Kozhikode with 45 and Ernakulam with 40.
The state also reported three COVID-19 related deaths on Wednesday, taking the fatality rate to 0.4%. The deaths were reported from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Thrissur districts. The state health department said that the deaths occurred in the last few days and were confirmed as COVID-19 deaths after due verification.
Vaccination coverage crosses 90%
The state has also achieved a remarkable feat in vaccination, as it has crossed 90% coverage of the eligible population with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the state health department, 2,77,50,919 people have received the first dose, while 1,33,29,612 people have received both doses of the vaccine, as of Wednesday.
The state has also started administering booster doses to healthcare workers and frontline workers, who have completed nine months after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. The state has received 4,17,000 doses of Covishield and 1,17,000 doses of Covaxin for the booster dose drive, which began on Monday.
State braces for Omicron variant
As the new variant of concern, Omicron, has been detected in several countries, including India, the state government has stepped up its surveillance and preparedness to prevent the spread of the variant in the state. The state has issued guidelines for international travellers, who have to undergo RT-PCR testing on arrival and quarantine for seven days, irrespective of their vaccination status.
The state has also set up genome sequencing labs in four medical colleges to identify the variant and track its transmission. The state health department said that so far, no case of Omicron has been detected in the state, but urged the people to remain vigilant and follow the COVID-19 protocols.